What is an heirloom variety? Heritage and heirloom varieties of vegetables are simply old varieties that are no longer sold commercially by the big seed companies or used in commercial growing, they may only have been out of commercial circulation for a few years but some date back as far as the 1800’s. Also under this classification you can find local varieties that have been cultivated for many years, the seed being saved year on year and these varieties may never have had been offered commercially or officially named.
Why choose heirloom varieties? These old varieties have generally been chosen for flavour and will crop over a long period, modern commercial varieties are often developed for uniformity, ease of mechanical harvesting and shelf life rather than flavour. Heirloom and heritage varieties are generally open pollinated and have natural variation that allows them to adapt to local environments rather than being F1 hybrids that are all identical and expensive to produce. With heirloom vegetables you can save your own seeds year on year.
Read more about this in our article in the October edition of ‘etcetera’. Come along on Saturdays when our nursery is open and see our collection of heritage beans and find out more about the different uses – we have over 40 varieties – we are giving away free packets of heirloom bean seeds to customers to grow next year!
The nursery is open every Saturday from 10-4 until the end of October. We can open at other times by appointment so call or email if you want to drop in at another time.